1980 Societal Assessment of SPS

ABSTRACT Construction and operation of a 60-unit (300 GW) domestic SPS over the period 2000-2030 would stress many segments of U.S. society. A significant commitment of resources (land, energy, materials) would be required, and a substantial proportion of them would have to be committed prior to the production of any SPS electricity. Estimated resource demands, however, seem to be within U.S. capabilities. Modifications will be required of institutions called upon to deal with SPS. These include financial, managerial and regulatory entities and, most particularly, the utility industry. Again, the required changes, while certainly profound, seem to be well within the realm of possibility. Enhanced cooperation in international affairs will be necessary to acconmodate development and operation of the SPS. To remove its potential as a military threat and to reduce its vulnerability, either the SPS itself must become an international enterprise, or it must be subject to unrestricted international inspection. How either of these objectives could, in fact, be achieved, or which is preferable, remains unclear. Forty-four concerns about the SPS were identified via a public outreach experiment involving 9,000 individuals from three special interest organizations. The concerns focused on environmental impacts (particularly the effects of microwave radiation) and the centralizing tendency of the SPS on society. The interim results of the public outreach experiment influenced the scope and direction of the CDEP; the final results will be instrumental in defining further societal assessment efforts.